The Chargers, then playing in San Diego, and the 49ers have been close in proximity but were never truly "rivals" thanks to playing in different conferences. They have only met 14 times and are tied with each having seven wins. Their first game was in 1972, which the 49ers won by blowout: 34-3.
San Diego would win the next three before San Francisco would go on a 12-year unbeaten run going 7-0 against the Chargers from 1988 to 2000 including blowing them out in Super Bowl XXIX. The Niners dynasty thoroughly dominated the Chargers who struggled to remain relevant for most of the '80s and '90s.
Following that era, the series would shift to the Chargers and they would the last four games from 2002 to 2014. San Diego would put together a powerhouse of their own led by Rivers, who is undefeated in three meetings with the 49ers.
Their next game is scheduled for the 2018 season and this is the best 49ers team the Chargers will face. It also marks the first time the Chargers face the 49ers as part of Los Angeles. Both teams have championship-calibre rosters making the next matchup a tasty one.
Los Angeles Chargers Recent History
They aren't as accomplished as their Californian rivals, but the Chargers had had some success. They won an AFL Championship in 1963 then had brief runs in the early '80s and in the mid '90s where they would make their only Super Bowl appearance. They would get blown out by the Niners, unfortunately.
The franchise would began another run in the 2000's following the drafting of all-time great running back LaDainian Tomlinson. He would pair with elite quarterbacks Drew Brees then Rivers to lead the Chargers to five division titles in six seasons including an AFC Championship appearance in 2007.
That would be the furthest they get as the Chargers would again begin to struggle and shuffle head coaches. Now back to Los Angeles, they are quietly building up for another deep playoff run even if they almost always fall short.
San Francisco 49ers Recent History
It took them a while but when they did, they did it the best. The 49ers didn't become relevant until the '70s when they won the newly formed NFC West three straight times. This was a precursor to their dynasty as they would become the NFL's most dominant franchise for almost two decades.
The 49ers had an extended dynasty. They won four Super Bowls in the '80s led by quarterback Joe Montana and would add a fifth in 1994 with Steve Young. From 1981 to 1997, the Niners would combine five Lombardi trophies with 13 division championships and 207 wins to just 72 losses for a stunning 75 winning percentage.
Following this golden era, the Niners have remained competitive save for a brief period in the mid-2000's. They returned to the Super Bowl in 2012 under Jim Harbaugh, but are once again on the mend. With Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy G leading the charge, hope is anew in the Bay area.
Los Angeles Chargers Outlook
Believe it or not, this is the best team the Chargers have had. Yes, maybe even better than the mid-2000's team that dominated the AFC West. The Chargers just haven't been able to put it all together. They are constantly besieged by injuries, bad kicking, or an inexplicable ability to blow close games.
Rivers continues to ball at quarterback but needs more help from the rest of the offence, especially with tight end Antonio Gates gone. Melvin Gordon has to be better as their star running back. The offensive line is solid but will fall apart if tackles Russell Okung and Joseph Barksdale get banged up, it's over.
Few teams can boast the same pass defence as the Chargers. They were in the top-five in most major categories and have the best secondary led by cornerback Casey Hayward. First-round pick Derwin James will fill a much-needed hole at safety while Bosa and Melvin Ingram form one of the best pass-rushing duos.
San Francisco 49ers Outlook
San Francisco is putting all their hopes on Garoppolo. The heir apparent to Tom Brady wowed everyone in his five starts with the 49ers going undefeated and throwing for over 300 yards per game. He led San Francisco to a 44-33 win over the second-rated defence of Jacksonville late in 2017.
Management rewarded him with a fat contract worth $137.5 million, the largest at its time. They spent the offseason bolstering their offence signing Weston Richburg at centre and drafting Mike McGlinchey in the first round to play opposite six-time Pro Bowler Joe Staley. They also added running back Jerrick McKinnon.
The Niners have a solid defence that improved to the top-half of the NFL once Garoppolo stabilized their offence. They spent so much on the offseason on the offence they will need to wait to add more to the defence. It all depends on Jimmy G being the truth or a lie.
It's the last game of the preseason so the first team may get more reps and may even play a half. In that case, the advantage goes to the Chargers. Their defence is monstrous and will give Garoppolo problems, especially since the secondary is much better than whatever receivers San Francisco has.
The Niners have a solid no-name defence that won't roll over and will also nullify Los Angeles's offence. The difference comes down to the teams' depths. The Chargers are solid on defence save for their linebackers. Their receivers are also among the worst outside Allen.
It could be a close game with some back-and-forth. Los Angeles may edge San Fran at the beginning, but once the backups come, the advantage goes to the Niners who have a tad bit more on defence and just enough on offence.